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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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RELEASE: Jan. 15, 1999
CONTACT: Loretta O'Donnell or Amy Collings
(609) 984-1795 or 292-2994


The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today released the Historic Pesticide Contamination Task Force's recommendations for sampling and remediation of soil containing pesticide residues to protect public health and safely manage the state's natural resources.

The draft report was submitted to DEP Commissioner Bob Shinn this week and will be presented to the public at a meeting on Thursday, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. in the Burlington Township Municipal Building. Shinn will attend the meeting and review public comment prior to incorporating the recommendations to guide DEP policy.

"New Jersey is the first state to take action to control exposure from historic pesticide use. We had to rethink the way we deal with industrial discharges to expand our remediation guidelines to encompass the 'green' side of pesticide residues on farmland and orchards," Shinn said.

Shinn created the task force in April 1997 after residual pesticide contamination was found in soil at a housing development built on a former orchard in Burlington Township. DEP supervised remediation of that site which presented new issues to be addressed for future guidelines at other potentially contaminated properties.

DEP estimates that at least 5 percent of the state's acreage may be impacted by the historical use of pesticides. Research indicates that similar problems exist in other states and countries from use of agricultural pesticides such as arsenic, lead, DDT and Dieldrin prior to the 1970s. Arsenic and lead are two naturally-occurring metals and it is often difficult to distinguish between concentrations from the application of pesticides and those that occur naturally.

"The recommendations developed by this task force will be a model for other states as they, too, deal with development of former agricultural lands," Shinn said.

While there is currently no state requirement that agricultural soil be tested prior to development, many builders and lenders, and some municipalities, are now requiring that proposed development sites be tested.

"The strategies proposed by the task force will go a long way toward managing a complex problem by offering flexibility and choice of options for various situations. As we have learned in meeting other goals, we must work in partnership with public and private organizations to implement effective environmental safeguards," Shinn said.

The task force members represented a diverse group of organizations including agriculture, real estate, environmental and health interests, bankers, municipal government and builders.

"The report is an important first step while DEP continues to evaluate environmental information and conducts further research," said Assistant Commissioner for Site Remediation Rick Gimello, who directed the task force.

The task force recommendations include:

  • Sampling should be conducted for former agricultural areas with exposed soil that are used by children, such as schools, daycare centers and playgrounds.

  • Sampling of former agricultural areas, and any necessary remediation, should be conducted prior to development.

  • DEP will provide guidance concerning exposure control alternatives and sampling to anyone concerned with historic pesticide residues.

  • DEP will provide an appropriate sampling methodology specifically designed for the investigation of pesticide residues in soil at agricultural properties.

  • DEP should allow a remedial alternative involving soil blending for pesticide residues in soil at former agricultural areas when it is protective of public health.

  • Remedial options for new development sites should include: excavation, customized plans based on development specifics, consolidation and covering of contaminated soil on-site under roads and structures or capping contamination with clean soil, providing that deed notices are filed to prevent disruption of the capped material.

Changes in land use will trigger the sampling of agricultural areas prior to development. DEP is currently providing guidance and appropriate sampling methodology for agricultural properties.


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